Domaine Glinavos "Protos Inos" Zitsa PDO 2019 (Greece) - [W&S 92]

Domaine Glinavos "Protos Inos" Zitsa PDO 2019
(Greece) - [W&S 92]

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Zitsa is the only appellation in the mountainous Epirus region in north-western Greece. It is the sole appellation in the country that deals only in sparkling white wines.

The continental climate and high altitude here mean that this is one of the coolest wine regions in Greece. The high acidity and delicate aromatics of the native Debina grape variety that dominates Zitsa's vineyards are well suited to the growing conditions and to sparkling winemaking.

Debina may be the only officially permitted grape in Zitsa, but it is not the only variety grown in the area. A traditional wine associated with Zitsa is a blended red made from Bekari and Vlachiko grapes, often produced in a sparkling rosé style. The two varieties are also often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to produce dry, full-bodied table wines.

The vineyard area centers on the small town of Zitsa, located within the Pindus mountain range some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Ionian coast. Along with Zitsa, the neighboring villages of Karitsa, Klimatia and Protopappa fall under the appellation.

Numerous hills, mountains and valleys typify the terrain of the area. Vineyards usually sit on steep, sunny south- and east-facing slopes with free-draining limestone soils. Many sites must be fenced as wild boar and other animals seem particulalry fond of Debina.

The climate of Zitsa is more continental than that in much of the rest of Greece, although there is some maritime influence from the Ionian Sea in the west. In summer, cooling breezes from the ocean help to temper the effects of the continental warmth. Vineyard altitudes reaching as high as 700m (2300ft) above sea level mean that the evenings are much cooler.

This diurnal temperature variation means that the Debina grapes can ripen slowly without losing much acidity, a vital component in the production of sparkling wines. Cold winters in Zitsa often see the vineyards covered in snow.

The cold winters, as in the Champagne region, have in historical terms largely determined the style of PDO Zitsa. Still wines shut down their fermentation as autumn turned to winter. It resumed in spring, often producing carbon dioxide (bubbles) in barrels and sealed containers.

Although Zitsa has been producing Debina wine since 600 AD, it became an official appellation only in 1972. One of the region's most famous proponents was the English poet Lord Byron, who was a guest at the monastery in Zitsa in the early 19th Century and praised the region's wines.

The advent of phylloxera had a severe impact on the region during the 20th Century. However, it has experienced growth in production and quality since the 1970s.

About the Varietal:                                                                                                      Debina is a white grape variety closely associated with the mountainous region of Zitsa in northwestern Greece. There it is used to produce dry, semi-sweet and sparkling wines, all of which must be single-variety.
Semi-sparkling and sparkling wine – which is fresh and delicate on the palate – with hints of apple, is the most common style produced in Zitsa. The region is gaining recognition as Greek wines become more fashionable on the international market.

Climate and viticulture:
Grown at high altitudes and often on steep vineyards, Debina achieves naturally high levels of acidity, which makes it a perfect candidate for sparkling wine production. A little Debina is also grown in neighboring Albania, though this wine is rarely exported and generally consumed domestically.

The variety is prone to oxidation, which historically limited the wines to local markets. But modern winemaking, bottling and transport techniques have allowed them to gain a wider audience.

About the Wine:

Grape Varieties: Debina 100%
Quality Classification: P.D.O. Zitsa

Zitsa is quite unlike the rest of Greece. The area is more reminiscent of Austria or Switzerland, than the Mediterranean-influenced Greece.

Color: Bright golden with greenish nuances.

Nose: The aromas are delicate, predominantly apple, pear and hints of fresh white peach.  Notes of citrus blossoms complement the excellent aromatic profile.

Palate: Youthful taste with finesse and acidity which brings out the freshness of the fruits.

Ratings & Reviews

92 Points - Wine & Spirits:
Glinavos has become famous in hipster wine circles for its Paleokerisio, a funky skin-contact sparkler made from debina, Zitsa’s local grape. This is the still version, a round, waxy white with quince and orange blossom flavors. Meyer-lemon acidity gives it a gentle lift, just enough that it’s not tiring and doesn’t get in the way of its plush, comforting feel.